My spiritual mentor is now 87 years old and has faithfully served Jesus Christ as a teacher, pastor’s wife, church planter, and missionary for most of her earthly years. She has been an incredible blessing in my life and to many others! The Apostle Paul had a similar relationship with Timothy. Even though Paul and Timothy were devoted followers of Christ in the early church, Paul knew how quickly people can become tainted by the world’s teachings. Therefore, Paul warned Timothy, “Watch your life and doctrine closely” (1 Tim. 4:16). Be aware of how your life reflects Christ to those around you.
Paul was teaching Timothy to be aware of the people and circumstances surrounding him. But verse 16, where this caution appears, is actually the last verse of the chapter. Throughout chapter 4, Paul describes a process for maintaining godliness that allows believers to guard their lives against the enemy. This process includes speaking truth to one another, avoiding false teachings, sharing the hope of Christ, and pursuing godliness no matter one’s age (vv. 6–10). Paul exhorts Timothy to train himself to be godly, not to neglect his gift, to be diligent, and to persevere because “we have put our hope in the living God” (v. 10). Timothy could not accomplish this without a deep sense of self-awareness; he needed to be mindful of his own sin, emotions, and behaviors. Likewise, we must recognize our need in order to grow. We must be aware that we are Christ’s living messengers to the world. Paul presents it as a calling that we can fulfill with God’s leading and guidance. This should encourage us to examine ourselves and ask others to help us keep a close watch on how we live.
>> Today, reflect on these questions: “Who am I, and what am I like? Whom do I allow to speak truth into my life?” If you are in need of a spiritual mentor, ask your pastor to help you find one. Being mentored in the faith can be the first step in becoming a lifelong follower of Christ.